Down Dems Get Dumber
The power struggle over California's broken education
[Patrick Mallon] 3/18/05
lowered-expectation Democrats have embarked on a pleasantly
foul strategy to cope
with the state's horrific
national ranking of 48 out of 50 states in K-12 academic performance – cancel
entirely the already-tabled high school exit exam required to
receive a diploma. The exam has become a public relations nightmare
for the ruling leftists who dominate both bodies of the legislature
can’t seem to escape the responsibilities
and consequences of some of the good decisions made by other
The high school exit
exam, the brainchild of one-time Democrat state senator, now
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack
O' Connell, and the mantelpiece of former “education governor” Gray
Davis, was enacted into law in 1999, and scheduled for first
use with the state's graduating class of 2004.
However, in July 2003,
the California State Board of Education issued a memo titled “State Board of Education Delays Consequences
of California High School Exit Exam. Decision postpones exit
exam as graduation requirement to class of 2006.” The critical
portion of the memo reads as follows:
The action means students
in the classes of 2004 and 2005 are no longer required to pass
the exit exam as a condition of earning
a high school diploma. Instead, the class of 2006 will be the
first class that must pass the exit exam as a requirement of
graduation. The State Board delayed the exit exam in the wake
of a recent independent external evaluation that found the test
has been a “major factor” in boosting standards-based
instruction and learning but that many students, for different
reasons, may not have benefited from courses of initial and remedial
instruction to master the required standards.
Translated – the
state was worried that an estimated 30-40 percent of 2004 examinees
would have failed the test, resulting
in thousands of lawsuits filed by angry parents.
This type of exam is nothing new. High school exit exams are
now required in 19 states.
So, a pioneering "Queen Bee of Self Esteem" has arrived
to save the day. Her name is Karen Bass, a newly elected assemblywoman
from Los Angeles. According to Jim Sanders of the Sacramento
Bee Capitol Bureau ("Activist takes office, comes out swinging," March
"Bass, the state's
only African American female legislator, is a former nurse
and physician's assistant with brown belts
in tae kwon do and hapkido martial arts.
Los Angeles Democrat is likely to need both skills; toughness
and compassion, in tackling one of California's
most controversial education issues: the high school exit exam.
unpacking her bags at the Capitol, Bass launched a bid to eliminate
the requirement that no diploma be
given to high school students who fail the exam, beginning next
"If you begin taking the test in the 10th grade and you're
not passing it, what's your incentive to finish high school?" Bass
asked. "The last thing in the world we want to do is increase
the dropout rate."
How inspiring! Just
what every ambitious kid needs…a mentor
in calling it quits.
Here is the key language of her proposal (AB 1531):
Existing law requires, commencing with the 2003-04 school year
and each school year thereafter, each pupil completing grade
12 to successfully pass the exit examination as a condition of
graduation from high school. Existing law requires the board,
in consultation with the Superintendent, to study the appropriateness
of other criteria by which high school pupils who are regarded
as highly proficient but unable to pass the exit examination
may demonstrate their competency and receive a high school diploma.
Is she serious? "High school pupils who are regarded as
highly proficient but unable to pass the exit examination?" What
is a high school senior "highly proficient" at if they
can't pass a test that educators rate as equivalent to 10th-grade
standards? Maybe this language is only an invitation to lawyers
to start feeding at the public trough.
You have to hand it to Bass, and other equally dumbed-down progressives
like fellow legislators Gil Cedillo, Gloria Romero and Assembly
Speaker Fabian Nunez for their perpetual desire to look out for
the best interests of children.
Why, Sacramento is so filled with glee for Bass's activism that
they envision her as a potential future assembly speaker when
Nunez is termed out in 2008. Nunez, overjoyed with Bass's stance,
has already selected Bass as the majority whip.
So Ms. Bass has her marching orders, well-timed to coincide
with the governor's proposals for teacher merit pay. After all,
if there are no standards to test the educational progress of
students, there's no way to determine whether teachers are doing
It would seem that
Ms. Bass should be more focused on content, aptitude and qualifying
students for advancement, and less on
doctrinaire liberalism, mediocrity, and self esteem. What is
more expensive to the child and the state as a whole? An uneducated
dropout, or a valuable contributing individual who works hard
in school, sees the value of academic success, and prepares themselves
for a lifelong competitive world? The dropout rate is already
a huge problem. Ms. Bass's "solution" will only make
According to the Marin
Independent Journal in April 2004, “13
percent of the state’s high school students dropped out
last year, according to figures released by the state Department
of Education. However, using an alternative method—considered
by some educators as far more accurate—the state’s
dropout rate was about 30 percent for the same period.”
Talk about depressing.
With 7 million students in K-12 and upwards of 30 percent of
those kids dropping out, I can't imagine any
parent being happy with a party that openly advocates reducing
educational standards as some form of constructive response to
an embarrassing condition. And yet Democrats are again, venerated,
glorified, and exalted for running counter to public objectives.
Leave it to "One Bill" Gil Cedillo to make the Democrat's
most ludicrous observation about the rise of the Karen Bass philosophy
of educational excellence:
"There are certain
people who just have this moral authority, this sense of leadership
about them. And she's one."
Parents who continue to vote Democrat over progressive policies
like these should realize that they are being victimized by deceitful
politicians who purport to help their families.
Not a single parent
should be satisfied if their undereducated child ends up with
backbreaking menial work washing dishes and
cleaning houses because nothing more was expected of them, when
they could have become doctors, scientists, accountants, and
engineers. The “activists” in control have decided
that educational excellence takes a back seat to the raw pursuit
of political power on the back of innocent kids.
That’s disgraceful! CRO
Mallon is a political journalist and author of California
Dictatorship: How Liberal Extremism Destroyed Gray Davis.
[read an excerpt]. Patrick
is a regular guest on talk radio programs throughout
and nationally. His website is at PatrickMallon.com and
can be contacted at email@example.com
2005 Patrick Mallon